The war in which I fought, the war that left its indelible mark on me, was not a major battle lauded by historians as a great victory or a lesson learned. It was not researched after the fact, analyzed, viewed from various interesting angles and dissected by great minds with the intent of culling any worthwhile data it might provide. Nor was it documented with video equipment and reenacted, or detailed in studious dissertations. It was not noted at all, in fact, by any person alive on planet earth, either during or after the terrible war had essentially ended. It is actually only briefly noted within a massive list of words and definitions by a single two-syllable word that resides in Webster’s Dictionary. Just one word to explain the hideous events that changed my world forever. That annihilated me, though I fought for survival ever so gallantly. One word.
The battle was fought in my own home behind doors that were kept locked with the intent of keeping the boogieman safely outside. But the boogieman was a resident of the house where I grew up. He built it. The locks were pathetically ineffective. The fox was guarding the hen house.
I had to maintain the highest level of invisibility achievable by a child who was terrified of those who gave her life, only to metaphorically take it away. I could not draw my name upon the wall to mark my passing. To commemorate how I had fought and suffered. No “Kilroy Was Here” left on a board or stone to prove I had been, though I was no more.
I cloaked myself in darkness, but again and again, the darkness betrayed me. For it did not hide me from my father who quietly sneaked into my room at night and took what he wanted from me, leaving little behind. It did not soften the impact of being raped, abused and used. It did not shield me from his warped lust.
I could not leave a mark as a witness of what I suffered at their hands as they used me to satisfy their whims or to release their raging anger. I could not speak of the atrocities. Nor memorialize the tragedy. No one knew of the war in which I so desperately struggled and fought. I could not tell them. I was a prisoner of an unknown and unacknowledged war. People do not want to hear, they do not want to know the ugly truth of the torture such prisoners endure. Even when the war is supported, they turn their head and shut their eyes.
“Kilroy Was Here” was a proclamation. It was created as a visual symbol to commemorate the GI’s presence. He left it behind as a sign for those who would come after. To let them know he had been where they are now…and had lived to tell.
I have no clever graphic. I have only words. I leave them strewn here on this screen for those who will come after me. And sadly, there will be many more who come after. More broken souls who start their life wounded by those who were supposed to die protecting them. Staggering under the weight of every form of child abuse. And like any soldier who endures and fights in horrendous conditions while attempting to survive the unrelenting attacks of a deadly, disguised, fanatic enemy, we are each one forever changed by what we have endured.
We may survive, but we don’t get out alive.